Tommy Walker: Pursuing the Way of Peace

When you’re in L.A., there are many outstanding churches you might want to visit on a Sunday morning, but when we were there last week with our oldest son’s family, Alan’s first choice was to visit Christian Assembly, where Tommy Walker is the worship leader. Over the course of his career, Tommy has composed 85+ songs, recorded 25 albums, and has 247 recordings listed on Song Select. His works include many songs that our family band played over the years, such as He Knows My Name, That’s Why We Praise Him, Joy, Joy, Joy, and Sweet, Sweet Presence of Jesus.
Tommy is an outstanding musician and has worked with national leaders like Franklin Graham, Rick Warren, and Promise Keepers, but what Alan loves best is not Tommy’s great giftedness, but his amazing humility. Although he’s been offered deals by recording companies and publishers, he has intentionally pursued a more quiet path with his wife Robin, continuing his ministry as the worship leader at the same church for twenty-eight years, where his four children have grown up. His ambition is to glorify God, not himself, and that won’t catapult you into Hollywood fame and fortune. However, I believe Tommy Walker is spiritually rich, and he’s definitely famous in the eyes of those of us who’ve been blessed by his ministry!
       By the way, the message (by Pastor Tom Hughs) was also excellent. He’s working through a series called Anxious for Nothing http://cachurch.com/sermons/october-20-21-weekend-services/ and last week offered this advice for keeping CALM in the midst of crisis:
C: Celebrate God’s goodness and blessings
A: Ask God for help
L: Leave your concerns with God
M: Meditate on God and his Word
      Are you anxious today? If you’ve got a few minutes, please allow yourself to be calmed by Tommy Walker singing “When I Don’t Know What to Do.”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMXEwwhF6pg

“Lord I surrender all
To Your strong and faithful hand
In everything I will give thanks to You
I’ll just trust Your perfect plan

When I don’t know what to do
I’ll lift my hands
When I don’t know what to say
I’ll speak Your praise
When I don’t know where to go
I’ll run to Your throne
When I don’t know what to think
I’ll stand on Your truth
When I don’t know what to do

Lord I surrender all
Though I’ll never understand
All the mysteries around me
I’ll just trust Your perfect plan

Bridge

As I bow my knee
Send Your perfect peace
Send Your perfect peace Lord
As I lift my hands
Let Your healing come
Let Your healing come to me”

“Strong Christians are not strong people, they just know where to run.” —Tommy Walker

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

P.S.—I didn’t think of this when I first wrote the article, but studying Tommy Walker’s life makes me believe he has had to resist Satan’s temptations to “bow down and worship” him. (See Meditating on the Commands of Christ 2). I’ve never had to give up fame or fortune (because I’ve never had either), but Tommy seems to have avoided a lot of the common traps that ruin the lives of many gifted people!

Meditation on the Commands of Christ (2): Get Thee Behind Me, Satan

                                    Matthew 4:1-22; Luke 4: 1-15In the accounts of Jesus, immediately after his baptism, he was led “up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil” (Matthew 4:1). How perfectly appropriate that Jesus first would teach us to “suffer it to be so now” (Matthew 3:15), and then immediately endure suffering (forty days of fasting in the wilderness) and temptation (which is what happens to all of us when we’re deprived of what we need). What were the temptations? How did Jesus respond? What can we learn for ourselves when we face temptation?In a nutshell, Satan’s temptations were all designed to see if he could get Jesus to act on his own behalf instead of in obedience to God the Father. The temptations were simple and universal: 1. Use personal power to provide for personal needs (rather than relying on God’s direction and timing)  2. Demand God’s protection (rather than waiting for God’s plan)  3. Worship Satan (who is behind anything that distracts us from worshiping God) in order to obtain wealth and power. After each temptation, Jesus responded with Scripture that explained why the suggestion was wrong, and then he concluded by saying, “Get thee behind me, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Luke 4:8). I pondered whether or not we could claim such a command for ourselves, since we read in Jude 1:9, “Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.” If God’s mighty archangel didn’t dare to rebuke Satan, should we? We are definitely counseled to “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you“(James 4:7) and to “take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13). I understand that it’s possible to resist and withstand, but can we command?

I believe the answer is yes, but only in imitation of Jesus, who is our perfect example. Notice that Jesus was “full of the Holy Ghost” (Luke 4:1), was “led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil” (Matthew 4:1), and after the temptation was over, “returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee” (Luke 4:14). God wants us to live our lives walking in the Spirit, doing what God asks, and then we will be able to discern right from wrong, resist temptation, and tell Satan to get out of our way!

But, what if we are not children of God by faith or have wandered away from God and are in a mess? Can we still command Satan to “get thee hence” (Matthew 4:10) as Jesus did? Based on Luke 11:14-26, I believe we’d be setting ourselves up for failure, because the power of evil is greater than our personal power. However, the good news is that God’s power is greater than evil. He is also merciful and invites us to “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world” (1 Peter 5:6-9). If we acknowledge our sins and cry out in faith to Jesus for help, He (and He alone) has the power to save us and make us capable—through his Spirit— of overcoming evil with good (Romans 12:21).

One last thought, and perhaps my favorite. When we are facing temptation, depression, anxiety, or despair . . . when we feel the spirit of evil and darkness obscuring our way, let’s turn to the comforting words of Psalm 27:1, “The LORD is my light, and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; ow whom shall I be afraid?” The whole psalm is wonderful, but notice verse eight especially, “When thou saidst, Seek my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.” In these situations, I believe we can say with confidence, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” and turn our faces to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, our LORD and master, who loves us and will rescue us.

Bible Passages Where This Command is Found:
Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-14

Psalm 27

1The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.

Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.

One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.

For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.

When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.

Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.

10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.

11 Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.

12 Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.

13 I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

14 Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

 

Marilyn’s Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

Marilyn has been a dear friend since junior high school days, which is about 56 years! (This photo was taken at our 50th high school class reunion last summer.)After college she married Lorin, and they’ve been living in Texas ever since, so she’s become a fan and able cook of Mexican food. While they were visiting a few weeks ago, I discovered that Marilyn has developed a recipe for chicken enchiladas that’s been written up in their church cookbook and is a perennial, always-eaten favorite when she brings it to potlucks. I asked if she’d be willing to share it with us, and she is! Thank you, Marilyn!

Marilyn’s Chicken Enchiladas

Two 10 oz cans chicken breasts in water, drained – I like Sweet Sue Chicken brand white breast meat
2 cans Cream of Chicken soup
Two 10 oz cans mild green chili enchilada sauce
One 4 oz can chopped green chilies
½ c mayonnaise
½ c sour cream
1-2 c shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
12 flour tortillas
Tortilla warmer
Parchment paper
       Break drained chicken into smaller pieces. Add one can of soup, green chilies, mayonnaise, and sour cream. Blend well. In a separate bowl, blend one can of soup and the two cans of green enchilada sauce for the topping. Line tortilla warmer with parchment paper, place a few of the tortillas in warmer, and heat for 30-40 seconds in microwave. Continue heating until all twelve are heated. Pour about 1/3 of topping into a 9 x 12 inch pan and spread evenly. Fill each tortilla with about 1/3 cup of mixture, roll, and put into pan. When all 12 are filled*, pour remaining topping over enchiladas making sure to completely cover them. Bake uncovered in oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Turn off oven, top enchiladas with cheese and return to oven for about 5 minutes to allow cheese to melt.
*You will have some filling left.
       I have found it better to not heat all of the tortillas at once, so I divide them up and heat in microwave 30-40 seconds. They will be hot! Also, when I place them in the pan, I make sure that some of the sauce is between them. Otherwise they will tend to stick together. If rolled fairly tightly, all 12 should fit in a 9 x 12, but if there is more filling and they are not tightly rolled, you may have to put the rest in an 8 x 8 pan. The last time I made them I used up all the filling, but in the past I have had some left over. And I make it easy by using the canned chicken breast, but you could use a rotisserie chicken if you prefer.        Marilyn says she’s never taken a photo of it, so I ordered chicken tortillas last week at our favorite Mexican restaurant, El Burrito. They serve them with refried beans and a salad crowned with sour cream and guacamole. Hope you enjoy them, however you serve them. I’m planning to try them next time my son-in-law (who has some Mexican heritage) comes to visit, and I’m betting he loves them!  🙂
(If you want a recipe for fresh guacamole, I wrote about it here:

 For through him [Jesus] we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.” (Ephesians 2:18-20. Isn’t it wonderful that through Jesus we have equal access to God the Father and can all become part of God’s family regardless of our ethnicity? May we celebrate our unity and learn to love others the way God loves us!)

 

 

Lessons from Fossil Rim

Alan and I have flown through the DFW (Dallas, Fort Worth Texas) airport a number of times, and once we even had to spend the night, although we didn’t know where to go or what to do, so we pretty much “wasted” our day. However, my friend Marilyn (who’s also going to share her recipe for chicken enchiladas this Saturday), recommended one excellent opportunity for fun and learning if you’re in the area. Here’s what she shared with me:                                    Becoming a grandparent is a gift from God because you get a second chance to relive old memories and pour your life into your grandchildren. We are blessed to have our children living fairly close to us, and our two youngest granddaughters are home schooled, which presents new adventures for us.

Recently we went on a home school cooperative field trip to Fossil Rim, a 1,800- acre conservatory protecting 1,100 animals on open meadows near Glen Rose, Texas (just an hour or so from Ft. Worth or Dallas). Not only can you observe these animals, you can interact with some of them as well!                                   Fossil Rim was named for the terrain which is an upheaval of land that is the beginning of the Texas Hill Country.  Limestone outcropping and caves may be seen in the area. Many fossils can be found indicating total flooding. My granddaughter picked up a rock in the picnic area that was a conglomerate of aquatic fossils and reminded me of Genesis 7:19, “And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.” When we first arrived, there was a presentation on the importance of being good stewards by Mark, a former missionary kid and missionary, using a creation Jinga (though he didn’t use the term creation). Blocks were stacked in the order of creation starting with the appearance of the land and ending with the creation of man. Genesis 1:9, “And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.” Genesis 2:7, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Mark then talked about stewardship, and as the children were chosen to pull boxes from the stack, Mark illustrated the imbalance that occurs when man does not care for what he has been given. Eventually the stack collapsed. Genesis 2:15, “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.”  Next was a discussion of how an animal is brought to the park vet for examination. There are three methods: 1) Place food inside a trailer to entice the animal to enter, 2) Use a snare, or 3) Tranquilize the animal, which is only used as a last resort. We were taught how to use a blow pipe and had fun practicing our skill on a cardboard zebra.  After the teaching time, we boarded the tour bus where our guide told us, “The bus is to the animals what an ice cream truck is to children!” He was so right. The giraffes were the first to see us and approach. Did you know that because of their weight, the giraffe’s gait is to advance front and back legs on one side and then the other in unison?  That was news to me! I also learned that giraffes have no upper teeth. They took the pellets from our hands with their soft lips. They have whiskers on their chins and long beautiful eyelashes. We were told that their favorite food is the leaves from the acacia tree, which also has thorns. The whiskers and eyelashes serve to protect their mouths and eyes from the thorns. The eyelashes also shield their eyes from the sun. Their tongues can be up to 20 inches in length.  The giraffes were tall enough to “come into” the tour bus. When they took the pellets from our hands we felt their soft lips and bristly whiskers. The biggest one, a male named Mosey, was able to reach beyond me all the way over to my hubby on the far side of the bus.  All along our route, the bus continued to be an attraction to the animals. This aoudad sheep seemed to be smiling at us.  Fallow deer hunted for the pellets that were thrown. Fallow deer come in a range of color from white to dark brown, and many are spotted like white-tail deer fawns.  The proud blackbuck was too busy guarding his harem and territory to come to the bus,                   and the mountain bongo stayed in the shelter of the trees.                                                   But the gemsbok,                                                                 addax, and a Hartmann’s mountain zebra came to get their share of pellets. Other species came to the bus, and still others were in restricted areas that we could see but not feed. I couldn’t help but marvel at the variety of God’s creation and in considering the animals’ ability to approach the bus unafraid made me ponder the bond that God designed between man and animals before the fall. Genesis 2:19b, 20a explains: “and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field.

  “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” Genesis 1:31a

Let It Be

As I write this morning, a tree service is removing six gorgeous, healthy maple trees from the front of our home. The whirring and whining of saws and chippers is grating.  The towering trees were here long before my family arrived twenty-five years ago, and to my way of thinking, they provide shade, privacy, and beauty. However, my husband sees them as a maintenance challenge and potential threat to the safety of the new addition he’s having built on our home,             so he overruled my protests and condemned the trees to death.  😦 It’s autumn, and leaves are falling, but I also noticed flecks of white drifting down on the balcony. I thought they were sympathetic snowflakes, but worse: they are tiny specks of the trees’ flesh and bones, silent reminders of the slaughter.  Sigh. I couldn’t help but notice a quiet prodding to practice the first lesson I learned from studying the commands of Jesus: “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.” John obeyed Jesus, and I must “suffer” the mystery of losing these beloved trees. This is a very small loss compared to what many people are enduring today . . . and to what I’m sure I will endure as I continue to live in a world where death is the inevitable end of life on this planet. Nevertheless, I am feeling sad and struggling to “suffer it to be so now” with grace and patience.

The consolation to me is in knowing that “for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” That is the good news! In bearing up patiently under what we cannot change, we are participating in the fulfillment of righteousness. I always use the King James Version (KJV) first, but I also read other translations in trying to understand passages of scripture, and I noticed that both the ESV (English Standard Version) and NIV (New International Version) translate Matthew 3:15 as “Let it be so now.” I was never a Beatles fan, but somewhere in the back of my brain I can hear the words “let it be” echoing solemnly beneath the grinding sound of trees becoming “Timber.” If Mother Mary shared those words of wisdom with the Beatles, she heard them first from Jesus!

“God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

“Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.”

Amen. (—Reinhold Niebuhr)

 

Meditating on The Commands of Christ (1): The Mystery of Suffering

Do you know what Jesus’ first commandment was, as recorded in the New Testament? Want to take a guess? I didn’t have a clue until last summer when I started studying for this series, so I was surprised to discover that Jesus’ very first commandment was given to John at the time of Jesus’ baptism: “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). In a world of suffering, the first thing Jesus tells anyone to do is “suffer!” Why?

The baptism of Jesus Christ is so important that it is included in all for gospel accounts, and for  years I’ve puzzled over the meaning of the second half of this verse: “for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” John was baptizing people as a sign of their “repentance for the remission of their sins” (Mark 1:4). Jesus, as sinless, did not need to be baptized, and so it was confusing to John (and to me) that Jesus would come to be baptized. John tried to stop him, saying that Jesus should baptize John rather than asking John to baptize Jesus! This is the point at which Jesus responded to him with, “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). Somehow, in the wisdom of God, it was necessary for Jesus to identify with all humans, even to the point of being baptized. (What an example for us to follow!) And, in order for both of them (“us”) “to fulfill all righteousness,” John needed to obey Jesus.

Like a three-year-old, I was stumbling over the “why” and failing to surrender to the “what.” God wants us to “suffer,” to bear up. Allow. Endure. Submit. For all of us, even when we are trying our hardest to do what is right and good (as John the Baptist was doing), we may find that we do not always understand “why” things happen. However, in the midst of our confusion, Jesus wants us to “suffer” it all…to allow what He ordains, bearing up under the mysterious pains of life and responding with faith, trust, and obedience.

Bible Passages Where This Command is Found:
Matthew 3:1-17;  Mark 1: 1-11,  Luke 3:1-22

P.S.—As a prophecy about the Messiah, I read this morning from Jeremiah 23:5-6: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness.” Jesus fulfilled all righteousness for us (which included his baptism), and we can claim this righteousness through faith in him!

 

 

Autumn Fruit Crisps for Chilly Weather

On our recent cruise of the North Sea, we had incredible dessert options  with every meal, but Alan and I discovered that among our favorites  were their array of crisps: apple, cherry, peach, rhubarb…almost every night some type of crisp was on the dinner menu, and I’m guessing because the chef must have discovered that crisps were perennial favorites for everyone.  Before the cruise was over, I think we’d tried every variety they offered,
and we were never disappointed! Therefore, since returning home, I’ve been on an fruit crisp kick and want to pass along my recipe “just in case” you might be needing a warm, fruity dessert!

Warm Apple Crisp for Chilly Weather

Preheat the oven to 350°F.6 large pie apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into small chunks
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup flour
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground (powdered) cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup chopped, salted pecans (totally optional, and you can use any type of nuts you like, but if you don’t use salted nuts, add 1/2  teaspoon salt   Arrange fruit in the bottom of a 9X12″ baking pan. You could also use peaches, plums, pears, cherries, rhubarb, any type of berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc.) Just 6 cups of fruit. In a separate bowl, add all the ingredients together and stir until well mixed. Distribute this mixture evenly over all the fruit in the pan Bake in the oven for 55 minutes at 350°F.  However, if you have really wet fruit, like plums, mushy peaches, or berries, it might require an hour or even a little more.  It’s done when the crumbly crust is golden and the fruit is bubbly but sticky.      Serve warm, and definitely add some whipped cream or ice cream on top. (I failed to bring ice cream along for our Sunday school potluck and was sorry for it, because it’s not as super yummy without something melty on top!)

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” (Proverbs 11:30)